At this time of year we get next to no vitamin D from the sun in this country (in part due to the sun not actually coming out that much 😉), but that’s not to say we don’t need it.
Vitamin D is essential so that the vital minerals such as calcium and phosphorous can be employed in the maintenance of healthy, strong bones and teeth. A lack in these nutrients can lead to more bone loss and osteoporosis in adults and bone deformities such as rickets in children.
Recommended daily intake: 8.5-10mcg (340-400iu) for babies under 1 and 10mcg (400iu) for everyone else. Although those with dark skin and the over 70’s may need more.
Getting what we need: From the end March/ beginning April until the end of summer we should all be able to get our daily dose from the sun. Providing we actually go outside of course! It’s been suggested that approximately 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen usually lead to sufficient vitamin D synthesis. However, over Autumn and Winter the chances of getting what we need from that source, is very slim, so we need to look elsewhere.
Unlike other vitamins, it’s only in a small number of foods – oily fish and fish liver oils (the best source), egg yolks, beef liver and fortified cereals. I don’t usually advocate taking supplements in place of real food, but in this case, as there are so few foods with this vitamin, it may be necessary, particularly in winter to supplement your diet. Breastfed babies certainly need to be given supplements although formula milk is fortified so a supplement isn’t needed there. Children aged 1-4 should also be given a supplement.
Please do be wary of the supplements you choose though as there have been reports of many pills containing far more than the recommended intake, which can lead to increased calcium in the body, in turn leading to high blood pressure and nausea.
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